Everyone must face up to the past and assess what happened objectively in order to relieve the pressure of collective guilt on society, Budapest Mayor István Tarlós said on Thursday at a commemoration marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Budapest ghetto.
Openly admitting to past sins is not a sign of collective or individual weakness but offers an opportunity to process the events while drawing lessons for the future, he said in the Dohány Street synagogue.
Tarlós added that several tens of thousands of innocent people suffered in the Budapest ghetto and several thousand lost their lives towards the end of the second world war.
András Heisler, leader of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz), said that in the present recurring boom of hatred, a gentle reminder is needed that hatred destroys everything around it, including the hate-mongers themselves eventually. History shows how seemingly innocent anti-Semitic remarks can develop into a cataclysm of historical proportions, he said.
The commemoration was attended by state secretary of the PM’s office Csaba Latorcai, ex-premier and opposition Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány, Liberal Party leader Gábor Fodor and several diplomats accredited to Budapest.
The ghetto was set up in November 1944, with some 70,000 people crammed in an area smaller than 20 blocks.
It was liberated by the Soviet Army on January 1, 1945.
Altogether around half of Budapest’s 200,000 Jews perished during the second world war.
Featured image: MTI